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UPenn President Faces Growing Backlash After "Despicable" Testimony On anti-Semitism & Genocide; Harvard University President Faces Calls To Step Down In Wake Of Capitol Hill Testimony; November Jobs Report Stronger Than Expected; Tomorrow, 124th Edition Of Army- Navy Rivalry. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired December 08, 2023 - 13:30   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Listen to this exchange.


REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): I am asking specifically, calling for the genocide of Jews, does that constitute bullying or harassment?

LIZ MAGILL, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: If it is directed and severe and pervasive, it is harassment.

STEFANIK: So the answer is yes?

MAGILL: It's a context-dependent decision.


SANCHEZ: A Penn mega donor is now threatening to rescind a $100 million donation he made to the school, joining a growing list of alumni, students, business leaders and politicians demanding that Liz Magill be fired.

CNN's Athena Jones is tracking these developments.

Athena, UPenn's Board of Trustees held an emergency meeting on Thursday, but Magill remains president. She's not budging. What more are you hearing?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Boris. That's right, the meeting yesterday came after Pennsylvania's governor, Josh Shapiro, called on the University of Pennsylvania's Board of Trustees to meet.

To discuss whether President Magill's testimony was a reflection, an accurate reflection, of the university's values, you know, whether she is a good fit moving forward.

But they have made no immediate announcements. A spokesperson said there is no imminent change that is going to be made by the board.

But we know that the pressure is piling on. The Wharton Board of Advisers, which is the business school associated with the University of Pennsylvania, the board is a who's who of business leaders.

Including billionaire NFL owner, Josh Perris, the CEO of BET, Scott Mills. And they are calling for a change in leadership saying they are concerned about what they call a dangerous and toxic culture that President Magill has allowed to exist on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

We also know that Representative Elise Stefanik has announced investigations not only into not just Penn, but also MIT and Harvard due to the testimonies of their presidents on Tuesday.

As you mentioned, Wall Street CEO, Ross Stevens, who is an alum of UPenn, is also the CEO of Stonebridge Holdings, has threatened to rescind $100 million worth of stock that Penn holds if Magill does not step down.

We have spoken to a number of students here on campus all day, probably more than 50 or 60 at this point.

Several say that it's inevitable that President Magill is going to have to go because of the financial hit the university is taking and could take. Donors closing their pocketbooks and this huge threat from Ross Stevens.

Others say, from the pro-Palestinian side, say she has not represented their views and they feel alienated.

Clearly, mixed views on this campus and a lot of pressure still building on President Magill -- Boris?

SANCHEZ: Athena Jones, live from Philadelphia. Thanks so much, Athena.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Harvard President Claudine Gay also under intense scrutiny following her testimony this week.

Listen to her response when directly asked about some of the hateful speech seen on her campus.


UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSWOMAN: So, the answer is yes, that calling for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard's code of conduct, correct?

CLAUDINE GAY, PRESIDENT, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: Again, it depends on the context.


KEILAR: I'm joined by Jacob Miller. He's a Harvard student and also the president of Harvard Hillel.

Jacob, thank you for taking the time to be with us.

What was your initial reaction to that testimony that you heard from your school's president earlier this week?


I was very shocked to see that testimony. You know, I think we have to ask ourselves the question, how we got here that the presidents of the top universities in this country are testifying before Congress and they can't say that genocide against Jews would constitute a violation of the code of conduct.

You know, and they were asked multiple times. It was a very easy question to answer. They were asked many times, and each time all of the presidents refused to say yes.

And these are presidents from the top universities in our country. The question I have been asking myself a lot recently is, how did we get here, how did this become normal and acceptable?

KEILAR: In the case of your school, do you think your president should resign?

MILLER: Look, I think Claudine Gay needs to take a hard look at herself and what she has done. She definitely needs to change course to demonstrate she does take seriously anti-Semitism.

That she is willing to take the strong step necessary to signal that Harvard will not tolerate anti-Semitism as it has.

I don't know if that means she needs to resign. I don't think resigning is either necessary or a sufficient step to fixing our campus culture.

It will require a lot more than the work of just one president. It requires a culture change.

Until now, Claudine Gay has not done a great job. And I hope she will change her rhetoric and tone, and actually do the tough things that are necessary to help fix this problem on our campus.


KEILAR: I just want to let you know we just saw an interview with the Crimson on Thursday. She said I am sorry. She said words matter. I think you are familiar with that interview certainly.

Has anyone with Harvard's administration reached out to you, or anyone else at Harvard Hillel in the wake of all of this? Has the outreach been there with Jewish students?

MILLER: Claudine Gay has come to Harvard Hillel twice, for dinner both times. I don't think this is sufficient outreach. I think there needs to be more.

She spoke at Hillel the second time to commit to combatting anti- Semitism. But the university president should -- she's a public-facing figure and should make more of an effort to engage with Jewish students, especially during this moment of vulnerability.

You know, all of us have family and friends that are fighting in Gaza. My brother is living in Israel right now. You know, this is a really tough moment for us.

And she has come to Hillel twice, but she could be doing a lot more.

And beyond just kind of being visible to students, she needs to be more -- you know, take more action, really seriously signal that the university will not tolerate anti-Semitism. She just hasn't.

I think that was on display during her testimony before Congress.

KEILAR: This hearing really prompted a conversation about, you know, free speech and hate speech on campus. Where do you see the line between free speech, acceptable protest and threatening speech? Because there seems to be a lot of confusion for many people.

MILLER: Right. Well, I think it's a very tough question, and I definitely think free speech is important.

I think it's important to note that the universities are not subject to a First Amendment -- you know, First Amendment standard with regards to speech. They are not required to tolerate all speech on campus.

If people are chanting for a genocide against Jews, universities don't need to tolerate that.

I think it's actually appropriate that they don't because that would be calling for the murder against me and my peers, which makes a lot of us feel unsafe.

So I don't think that universities need to abide by a First Amendment standard when it comes to speech. And I think it's appropriate that they don't.

You know, Harvard does have a code of conduct and you have provisions regarding harassment. And they specify in their provisions that harassment based on gender, national identity, or religion, among other things, would constitute harassment.

So speech calling for the genocide of Jews seems to be like a very obvious type of speech that would constitute harassment under Harvard's existing code of conduct.

I just don't know why President Gay refused to acknowledge that in Congress. And she should have, because it's in our code of conduct and it feels like a selective enforcement of the rules.

KEILAR: Jacob, it has prompted a big discussion, and an important one, that this nation obviously needs to have.

Jacob Miller, we appreciate your time today.

MILLER: Thank you so much for having me. KEILAR: The last jobs report of the year beating expectations. It

shows a strong and resilient economy. But will the country be able to narrowly avoid a recession? We will have that next on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.



SANCHEZ: New U.S. jobs numbers are out today, and they are stronger than expected. The November unemployment report showing a gain of 199,000 jobs last month. The unemployment rate dropping from 3.9 percent to 3.7 percent.

Let's dig deeper now with CNN economic commentator and "Washington Post" columnist, Catherine Rampell.

Catherine, great to see you as always.

So the health care and government sectors seeing big bumps in this report. The number of retail jobs declining. What does the data tell you about the status of the job market right now?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMIC COMMENTATOR: The job market has been remarkably resilient this year, last year. It's really quite striking.

Not only were these numbers slightly better than expected, you know, if you had asked forecasters a few days ago, they are even better today than had been predicted before the pandemic began.

But if you go back and look at what the Congressional Budget Office or the International Monetary Fund, what they thought the economy would look like today, we have bested all of those forecasts, which is amazing. Right?

You would expect that after this once-in-a-century pandemic, there would be some evidence of scaring across the economy. Instead, we are doing better than we imagined even before we hit that crisis.

SANCHEZ: The Fed is expected to keep rates where they are next week. But the odds of them potentially putting in a cut to interest rates in March, that has somewhat diminished. Where would you put the odds of that happening now?

RAMPELL: I do think we have seen the end, most likely, of that rate hiking cycle. So those who are worried about mortgage rates continuing to go up, for example, I think that has become certainly less likely.

The next move by the Federal Reserve is more likely to be a cut of some kind.

If you had asked market participants yesterday, they would've said they were expecting that to happen in March as you point out. They are a little less certain about that today, in part, because this report was relatively strong. In some ways it's kind of the Goldilocks of reports. It shows that the

economy is not too hot. It's not too cold. That should allay the Fed's concerns about the economy continuing to overheat about price pressures.

But because it was still stronger than expected, the Fed may yet hold off on putting through its first rate cuts.


So even if mortgage rates, et cetera, are unlikely to keep going up very much, I wouldn't expect them to precipitously come down anytime soon.

SANCHEZ: What does that mean for consumers and for the broader fight against inflation?

RAMPELL: While inflation has cooled significantly. By which I mean, last year, it had reached a high of almost 9 percent, year over year. Now we are very close but not quite at the long-run target of about 2 percent, year over year.

Things are better from the Fed's perspective. Remember, that still means prices are going up. They are not going to go back down. At least, overall prices are not going to go back down.

But they will, hopefully, continue to grow a little bit more slowly, a little bit more normally, akin to what we have seen during the several decades prior to the pandemic. That will be good news.

Of course, if we do not see further rate hikes that would, presumably, be good news to anyone hoping to borrow to buy a home, to buy a car, et cetera.

SANCHEZ: Definitely.

Catherine Rampell, appreciate the analysis. Thank you.

RAMPELL: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course.


KEILAR: Now to some of the other headlines we're watching this hour.

Authorities now believe the 67-year-old career college professor who fatally shot three faculty members this week at the University of Nevada Las Vegas kept a target list of faculty at the school and elsewhere.

Investigators say they found a list as well as ammunition and an eviction notice during a search of Anthony Polito's home.

Investigators say none of the victims in Wednesday's shooting were actually on the target list. But they have identified nearly two dozen letters Polito mailed in the hours leading up to the shooting to university personnel across the country.

And former California police chief, Alan Hostetter, who prosecutors say brought a hatchet to the capitol on January 6th and gave prior speeches calling for the execution of his perceived political enemies, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for his role in the capitol riot.

The Justice Department says, prior to the capitol riot, the retired police chief spread several conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.

And the reigning Masters golf champion is leaving the PGA tour. Jon Rahm saying, in a statement, he is going to Saudi-backed LIV Golf.

According to ESPN, he will make his debut in February as part of a three-year $300 million deal, that includes an ownership stake in a new team. And this comes as LIV Golf and the PGA are working out a deal to join forces by the end of the month.

When we come back, this weekend, it's one of the most iconic football games that will kick off, Army versus Navy. I have absolutely no bias here other than to tell you, obviously, Army is going to win this entirely, right? We are live from Gillette Stadium next.

But first, this time of year, of course, is about giving back. This Sunday, on "CNN Heroes, An All-Star Tribute," we will salute 10 extraordinary people who put others first all year-round.

Take a look.


ANNOUNCER: Sunday, on CNN --

ESTEFANIA REBELLON, CNN HERO: We are providing by lingual education for refugee children at the U.S.-Mexico border.

ANNOUNCER: -- support the extraordinary people making a difference in our world.

MIKE GOLDBERG, CNN HERO: We are rebuilding the corals here in the Florida Keys.

OSEI BOATENG, CNN HERO: We are going to ensure that people in Ghana have access to health care.

DR. SWANE STEWART, CNN HERO: I see a pet in need, and the person who cares for them dearly.

ADAM PEARCE, CNN HERO: Trauma can be a pathway for growth.

ALVIN IRBY, CNN HERO: We install child-friendly readings space in the barbershop.

YASMINE ARRINGTON BROOKS, CNN HERO: We all are connected because of the shared experience of having an incarcerated parent. STACEY BUCKNER, CNN HERO: There should be no homeless vets, period.


TESCHA HAWLEY, CNN HERO: I do not want to be defined as a victim of my circumstances.

MAMA SHU, CNN HERO: I do want to make sure that they get all the attention and love that they deserve.


ANNOUNCER: "CNN Heroes, An All-Star Tribute," Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN.



KEILAR: The Army-Navy game turns 124 tomorrow. Hard to make history after all that time.

And yet, that is exactly what will happen when West Point takes on the Naval Academy in this classic college football rivalry. Kickoff is at 3:00 p.m. Eastern in a place the game has never been played before.

CNN's Coy Wire joining us live from outside of Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

All right, what should we expect here, Coy, other than, of course, you know, Army just winning the whole thing? No bias here.


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Hey, easy now. You know half of our viewers are probably Navy. You have to be careful, Brianna.

Good to be speaking with you.

Listen, this game dates back to the year 1890. It is loaded with tradition, pageantry. Ten sitting U.S. presidents have attended the Army-Navy game.

It features the future defenders of our nation. Some of the brightest, as well. We're talking these athletes who have to balance the rigors of being a college athlete, but also academics. We are talking thermodynamics. We're talking cyber ops.

I spoke to some of the players who, they say, you know, we wish that the country, the communities would emulate what we do. We respect the other side despite our differences.

So we asked each team what makes an Army football player and a Navy football player. Here is what they had to say.



JIMMY CIARIO, ARMY LINEBACKER: An Army football player is tough. He's resilient. At the same time, he's filled with love. We go through a lot of hardships and hard challenges. But they are willing to do anything when they are surrounded by the people you love.

XAVIER ARLINE, NAVY QUARTERBACK: Tough, resilient, never willing to give up, never well. Claw to the very end no matter what he has left. He will sacrifice everything he has to the people to his right and left.


WIRE: Brianna, I talked about the traditions. One of the coolest is the running of the game ball.

I'm here with the deputy director of admissions at Army West Point, Tom Tolman. He has done this marathon run.

Tell us how far and what it is?

TOM TOLMAN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS, U.S. MILITARY ACADEMY AT WEST POINT: So this year, we ran 200 miles. The game ball, we get the game ball from the captain of the football team. We run it here and we hand it back off to the captain on the football team. This is my 10th year doing this.

WIRE: Tenth year doing it! I have to say, I love your haircut, first of all.

TOLMAN: Thank you.



WIRE: And lastly, Brianna, one of the coolest things is people yell. When I yell, go Army. They yell, the Navy!

That was for you.

KEILAR: I love it.

We are not going to do with the reverse. I just couldn't. I couldn't bring myself to do it.

But it is going to be an amazing game. We are looking forward to it.

Coy, thank you for that report.

We will be right back.